Outgoing Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan is a “crocodile” which the Economic Freedom Fighters has by the tail, the party’s leader Julius Malema said during an interview on eNCA on Tuesday morning.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has not yet announced his new Cabinet, and one of the big questions is whether Gordhan will be re-appointed.
Approached for comment on Malema’s statement on Tuesday morning, Gordhan’s spokesperson Adrian Lackay told Fin24 the EFF leader already has charges filed before the Equality Court by Gordhan for “insiduous, unsubstantiated public attacks”.
“The most appropriate way to confront Malema and his political party would be before a court of law and a high court judge,” said Lackay.
Malema was being interviewed about Public Protector Busisiwe Mkwebane’s report into Gordhan and other matters.
Mkhwebane’s report, released late on Friday, found that Gordhan – when he was minister of finance in 2010 – should not have approved the early retirement with full benefits and subsequent re-employment of Ivan Pillay, then-deputy commissioner of the SA Revenue Service.
Gordhan, Pillay and former SARS commissioner Oupa Magashula have all said they intend to challenge the ruling. News24 reported on Tuesday that lawyers for Gordhan filed a review application asking the North Gauteng High Court to set aside Mkhwebane’s report that found he flouted the Constitution.
The EFF has come out strongly in support of the Public Protector, with Malema saying Gordhan should not be included in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Cabinet.
Malema was also asked whether he planned to take the Daily Maverick to court for claims made against the EFF, in an article published on Monday by investigative journalist Pauli Van Wyk. Van Wyk wrote that the party’s 4th birthday party in Durban in July 2017 was paid for by at least R4.13m that had ultimately been channelled from VBS Mutual Bank. Malema told eNCA he did not have to go to court since, in his view, his party’s name had not been tainted.
“I will not worry about the lizards trying to distract me. I am facing a crocodile called Pravin here. We have it by its tail. My party’s name is not tainted. Look at the election results. We are stronger than before,” said Malema. He called the VBS allegations a “recycled story”.
When asked why he had not shown his party’s financial statements to journalists from Daily Maverick, as he had promised in April to do so after the elections, but had failed to do so to date, Malema committed to provide such access.
According to Malema, the journalists wanting access to the financial statements spoke to the EFF’s treasurer general and he (Malema) will go and find out what transpired for them not have have gained access.
“Cabinet is not yet even appointed. We are all getting our houses in order. When you are on a witch hunt you see an hour equal to a year,” he gave as the reason why access to the financials had not yet been granted to the media.
“I am not going to entertain recycled stories. The party was not paid for by VBS. We paid for our rallies. I do not have time for that. If there is any wrong doing, the police station is open – go to the police station.”